My title 

Art. Food. Relax. ITs Italy

by: Jennifer Richardson on

During my 3 month stint in Florence earlier this year I had the pleasure to meet some extraordinary local artists and artisans. Apart from gaining some great new friends, I was thoroughly inspired to pursue an art journey of a difference in Tuscany.

Stay tuned because we have some exciting programmes coming up in 2018 and 2019 with inspiring teachers from around the world.  We’ll be offering painting and drawing courses and exploring the seldom discussed, but exciting contemporary art scene and hidden treasures of this area. We’ll be welcomed into studios of outstanding local artists, we'll explore sculpture parks, museums and beautiful sites for both architectural and landscape drawing. 

There will be time to relax in the countryside, explore prized vineyards in the Chianti and Brunello regions, eat and cook delicious produce, pick olives and walk some quiet ancient cypress lined roads and drink up the beauty of this region and beyond. It is Italy!

A few more images from Florence and glimpses inside some local artists' studios. 

If you would love to bring out your artistic flair in one of the most picturesque and historical regions in Europe, let us know. 

Dates, Venues, Programme and Prices are coming soon.

Contact us with any questions and interests about these trips now >>

Marco's 60 Italian Hand Gestures

by: Jennifer Richardson on

One of my favorite Italian lessons...a little gesticulation goes a long way.

Feeling Greedy today!

by: Jennifer Richardson on

Sitting down watching two of my all time favorite cooking heroes- Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo !

Bella Ciao!!

by: Jennifer Richardson on

Anyone who has participated in our Singing in Tuscany or Singing in Siena events over the years would appreciate Bella Ciao.We have had the pleasure of singing it with Kavisha Mazzella, Rachel Hore, Riccardo Tesi and Ginevra di Marco plus of course Paolo Turchi and friends at Casa Gialla and unforgettable performances by Damiano Donati at Montestigliano!

Bella Ciao is historically known as the show which marked the startup of Italian Folk revival.   

Now these legends in Italian Folk music are making a 50yrs anniversary album.

Lucilla Galeazzi - vocals

Elena Ledda - vocals,

Ginevra Di Marco - vocals

Alessio Lega - vocals, guitar

Andrea Salvadori - guitar, tzouras, armonium, arrangements

Gigi Biolcati - percussions, vocals

Riccardo Tesi - button accordion, arrangements, musical direction

Go to MusicRaiser to support this important project>>

Rehearsal of 'Lilly in the Valley' with Tony Backhouse

by: Jennifer Richardson on

A final rehearsal of 'Lilly in the Valley' at Montestigliano before they gave it out to the waiting audience of 200+ gypsies and local Tuscan's. They shared the stage with Ginevra di Marco and her band. A truly wonderful night.

 Don't they all look gorgeous?

Tony joins us again for a wonderful week in Italy, check out the deets

Anna's Risotto with Radicchio and Gorgonzola

by: Jennifer Richardson on

One of my favorite recipe's from Anna our cook at Montestigliano for you to try.



100g butter
1 onion
1 radicchio
125g gorgonzola
1.5litres of vegetable stock
Olive oil, salt, pepper
250g aborio rice


Heat oil and add finely chopped onion and radicchio, saute on a gentle heat. 

Add a little stock, salt, pepper, simmer until vegetables are almost a sauce.  Blend in the gorgonzola.

Melt butter in pan, add rice and cook 1 minute, add stock gradually and stir until rice is al dente.
Blend through the radicchio sauce.

Add parmesan to serve.

We will be adding more recipes to blog so stay tuned.

Join us for Cooking at the Source for a week of cooking and a hilarious good natured local festa with the Donati family or Singing in Siena this year to meet up with Anna and learn direct from the source. 

11 ways to write great dialogue, by Claire Scobie

by: Jennifer Richardson on

This week I started Italian classes in preparation for my upcoming Travel Writing in a Palace retreat. I love languages and Italian, as we all know, is particularly passionate and evocative.

Years ago, I spent a summer learning Italian in Perugia. I have a vivid memory of sitting on sun-baked steps eating a mozzarella-filled panini dripping with olive oil and fresh oregano. I remember thinking, ‘There is nothing better than this.’ I’ve never tasted a sandwich like it.

So even though my grammar is very rusty and I’ve forgotten half my vocab, just being in the class made it all rush back. Afterwards I walked through Leichhardt – little Italy, for those who don’t know – and wanted to say ‘Ciao’ to everyone I met.

Of course, it wasn’t the exercises that made me excited, it was watching the teacher and being part of the group. I was mesmerised by her gestures. How she joked and drew everyone into the conversation; how she listened, her head cocked to the side. How she conducted the evening class as if it was an orchestra.

Capturing how a person talks is crucial to making your characters come alive on every page.

Here are 11 ways to keep your dialogue fresh:
  1. Interleave dialogue with action. This helps create a scene so the reader feels like they are seeing something in real time. i.e. She picked up the cup. ‘It’s chipped,’ she said. ‘Mother won’t be pleased.’
  2. Use ‘telling gestures’ that reflect the character of the person who’s talking. These also help to break up quotes.
  3. Condense an exchange. We don’t need every ‘um’ and ‘aagh’.
  4. Paraphrase some sections as a way to cut to the chase. If you paraphrase, you don’t need punctuation, as you’re not quoting the person word for word.
  5. Edit your dialogue to the strongest moments. Avoid those waffly bits – this is especially true in fiction where there’s a tendency to let dialogue drag. Keep it sharp.
  6. Include information – or exposition – in dialogue. Be aware this needs a light touch (especially in fiction.)
  7. Show what isn’t said between characters with ellipsis. i.e. ‘I was hoping you’d stay …’ she trailed off.
  8. Capture the rhythm of how a non-English speaker talks, rather than relying on dialect.
  9. Include a few foreign words to get the flavour of the language & include the English translation. i.e ‘Basta! Enough!’ said the mother as the child stamped her feet. (You can italicise the foreign word if you want.)
  10. Keep with ‘said’ as your speech tag. Writers often worry that ‘he said/she said’ gets boring, so they replace it with umpteen other words. Actually we don’t notice these tags when reading and it’s distracting if you have ‘hollered / murmured / responded’ etc.
  11. Be careful with swear words. They come across much more strongly in text than in speech

So over to you, how do you use dialogue to humanise your stories?

Join me in Italy this August for a special travel writing retreat. Early bird bookings are now being taken for Travel Writing in a Palace 2014

Bali Blessings: Day nine

by: Jennifer Richardson on

Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.

Brian Tracy

I like this quote. It is a blessing to have an attitude of gratitude. A few months ago my work contract with my main source of income fell through. When it happened it was traumatic because I wasn't sure how I would survive, but now I am grateful because I can now go forth and do what I love. I now 'have a life that works' and am based in a place (Bali) that understands and supports this lifestyle of the entrepreneurial gypsy.

Singabout started up 10 years ago as a hobby. I wanted to go out and discover new tribes, to dance the dances and sing their songs. It has been an incredible learning and I am so very grateful to all of you who came on that original journey and those who continue to come on these magical journeys. You have all taught me so much. I look forward to the next 10 years.

Jen xx

Photo: 2004 Singing in Tuscany group with Rachel Hore and Kavisha Mazzella.

Bali Blessing: Day seven

by: Jennifer Richardson on

OK a different type of blessing and this is not in Bali it is in Italy but I watched in Bali so I am blessed in Bali!

Hand gestures of Italy by Caurucci

by: Jennifer Richardson on

 Emergency traveler's language guide to survive in Italy- Very helpful for our Festa and Fun in Mercatello sul Metuaro!